The start of fall weather means it’s time for that quintessential fall task – digging the sweet potatoes! Here’s how to harvest and store these tasty tubers for winter.
Sweet potatoes are one of those true fall/winter veggies that you really can’t even find in the store during the rest of the year. Delicious in pies, stews, or just plain baked with butter, sweet potatoes are a hearty sweet cold-weather treat.
They are fairly easy to grow, and can do quite well in a variety of climates. However, they do require some special care after harvesting, in order to ensure they will keep well over the winter months.
If you do it right, your sweet potato crop will easily last all the way until spring – that is, if you can resist eating them all sooner!
Here are some helpful tips for digging and storing your sweet potato harvest:
…..Sweet potatoes, with the high vitamin content found in their orange flesh, are an especially great and versatile fall and winter food.
After watching the beautiful, winding vines cover your garden beds through the summer months, it can be hard to know when it’s the right time to go grab the spading fork and dig out the fleshy tubers. While sweet potatoes can be dug as soon as the tubers have reached a suitable size — between three and four months after planting the slips — the flavor and quality improves with colder weather. Some even wait until after the first frost has blackened the leaves, but only if you can get all your sweet potatoes out of the ground quickly and right away….
The most common tool for digging sweet potatoes out of the ground is a spade fork, although a shovel will work…. Tubers can grow a foot or more away from the plant, so give ample space to prevent nicking and damaging the skin, as this encourages spoilage….
Dry freshly dug sweet potatoes in the sun for several hours, then move them to a curing room. Although you can cook sweet potatoes fresh out of the ground, the natural sweetness improves after curing. Proper curing also heals injuries incurred to the tubers during harvest, which helps guarantee successful storage…. After curing, move the sweet potatoes to a storage space, such as a root cellar, kept between 55 and 60 degrees with humidity of 75 to 80 percent….
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